Being a big fan of my Griffin radioSHARK I was disappointed when the developers dismissed all plans on cranking out an HD Radio version of the device. Given the extensive source tagging in the digital stream, they could have integrated both recording to iTunes and purchasing from iTunes with little effort.
Still wanting to experience HD Radio as inexpensively as possible, I recently purchased a Sony XDR-F1HD HD Radio Tuner and, despite owning every cable known to human-kind, I lacked the RCA-male-to-3.5mm-female cable required to directly connect the tuner to my desktop speakers. Not wanting to trudge down to the family room to hook it up to the stereo for testing, I got out my trusty Griffin iMic but did not want to crank up anything as complex as Garage Band just to do listen to the radio. While I could have used something like Audacity, that program is overkill for the task I wanted to perform.
Then, I remembered that Griffin provides a free companion tool for the iMic called Final Vinyl [direct download link to 2MB disk image]. This tiny utility lets you choose any input source (an iMic is not a requirement for using the program as it works with any standard OS X input source) for monitoring, recording and in-stream effects manipulation. I really just wanted to “play” my Sony through my Mac just as I would use the radioSHARK, so I fired up Finyl Vinyl, made the appropriate configuration changes and enabled the monitor feature (highlighted in yellow):
Instantly, I was listening to KPLU-FM‘s Jazz24 HD Radio channel with practically no effort. Just to give it a try, I hit “record” and captured a very short sample [364 KB MPEG-4 audio file direct download] from the broadcast to show just how clear the signal comes through and how well the application does its job. While it will never be as straightforward as the radioSHARK when it comes to scheduling tuning and recording, Final Vinyl is a great way to solve simple audio routing, monitoring and recording needs.
One could argue that there is no need for either an HD Radio receiver or this handy setup given the plethora of internet radio streams available. While it is true that there are many streams to choose from, the physical radio does not require any extra bandwidth consumption (which is not a trivial consideration given the introduction of enforced bandwidth utilization limits by providers such as Comcast) and the digital radio source has had many fewer artifacts than the online counterparts have had (remember, “HD” does not stand for “high definition” so there are still imperfections).
If you have an alternate audio tool to suggest for this simple job (preferably one that is scriptable) definitely let me and other TAB readers know by sharing your suggestions in the comments.